Morgan Richards on 11/10/12
Joris Voorn is a man who needs little introduction. Ever since dropping his first EP ten years ago, the Rotterdam-born producer has left his own highly distinctive trail across Europe and the rest of the world. Pulse's Morgan Richards caught up with Joris ahead of his Stereosonic appearances next month, chatting about the challenges of festival gigs, Detroit techno and the similarities between dance music and architecture.
Pulse: Hello, Joris! Whereabouts are you at the moment? Joris Voorn: I’m at home in my studio in Amsterdam. I’m looking outside and it's raining. It's cool and autumn.
Sounds like it might be just about time for a trip down to sunny Australia. [Laughs.] Yes, I think so!
So when's the last time you were down here? You weren't at Stereosonic last year, were you? No, I wasn't. Actually, it's going to be my first Stereo. Last year I did a little club tour, I went to the big cities and did a few club shows. It was a lot of fun too, because it's a very different kind of thing from doing a festival tour. The music that you play at a festival is quite different from when you have a three- or four-hour set at a nightclub, when the people are not going to walk away to the next tent because you play something deep.
In the tracks you play and your own productions, you are a fan of the deep, there's that Detroit influence. How do you keep people interested during a festival set without neglecting that aspect of your music? Well, you already make a little playlist before, and you just select the tracks that you know aren't going to work as festival tracks. But it's not all big hits. I never like to do a set full of hits of course, it's nice to play a few hits but it's not really what it's about. It's just about playing, for me, in my case, having a really steady groove and layering some recognisable elements on top and playing tracks that really work in the sunshine. That's basically what it is.
When you're playing at a festival, you're in direct competition with your peers, in a sense. I mean, there might be DJs with very different sounds like trance, hard techno or whatever, but sometimes you'll be up against your peers. Do you think, besides the sort of tunes you play, the persona of a DJ has a big influence in that sort of setting? I’m sure it does. It's never a problem to be playing against your peers. It happens all the time, and I’m confident enough that I’m getting the right audience that want to see me and I think I know what to play for them. People, when they go and hear someone else, then of course they should be doing that. But there are festivals here in Europe where everything is techno, so on every single stage there are peers, and people that might be playing assume their music is always different but it's kind of similar. But I think if you do a good job, then it's not going to be an issue. I think, for the persona of a dj, that's something that has become really, really big. Djs are more like superstars now. Even at a festival it doesn't matter too much what they play... people just want to see someone, you know. If someone has a really interesting character, it's really fun a guy, or like a cult figure, then people will go and see him or her.
When you were younger, you had training in guitar and violin, as well as your father being a composer. To what extent has growing up with music in this way influenced the tunes you make now? I think it actually must have snuck into my productions and my music in the sense that...I have a weak spot for melody. I love grooves and stripped-down beats as well, but in the end, especially when I’m working on a new album, I think what's important is melody. Something that really moves people, something that really touches you emotionally in a way that beats just can't really do.
You've got a new album in the works. Tell us about it! Yeah, so basically i've been working on a new album for a few years now. It's very on and off, I've been travelling so much. It's planned to be a very melodic kinda thing; not too much about the beats. It's very different from my Beatport tracks.
What comes immediately to mind is Robag Wruhme's album 'Thora Vukk' from last year. Beautiful, intensely melodic, and not clubby tracks at all - just "listening" music. That's the idea, yeah. That's what I’m trying to get to. It's a very interesting thing to do, next to just making dancefloor Beatport kinda tracks, which is nice... but for me, it's all about the music. And doing an album that's really where I can actually try to prove myself, that it really is for the music.
In terms of melody, what are your influences? I mean, aside from Detroit. I guess I used to be... you know, the thing about Detroit techno is that it uses very specific kinds of chords and melodies. Of course, there are still a lot of melodies in my album, but it's a different kind of melody to what I would've played maybe eight or ten years ago, when I was really making Detroit techno. I think Detroit techno is more about jazzy chords and stabs, in a way, and nowadays I’m trying to make things sound actually quite different from that.
You've studied architecture in the past. How has that influenced the way you put a mix together? I think that doing architecture is very much about constructing something, about layering and about a program that has to go somewhere. Its a pretty analytical way of making art, if you call it art. I think with techno and that sort of music, it can be quite similar. It's very analytical sometimes, because you're not really... at least in my case, I’m not playing an instrument when I’m making music. It's thinking about where the beat's gonna go, where am I going to place the hi-hat, how am I gonna make the bassline and where am I gonna put the notes; instead of playing it just with inspiration. It's a similar approach to making art, I think.
We'll have to leave it there, Joris. Thanks for the chat, and very much looking forward to catching you at Stereosonic in Melbourne! Definitely. Will be seeing you there!
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